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on being brave

Almost exactly four years ago I moved to the arctic.

It was a spur of the moment decision, spurred on by a lifelong yearning for more romance and more adventure than everyday life can normally allow.

“You’re really brave,” a boy said to me, as we chitchatted in line at the bank. He had moved to the arctic too, but he had relatives there. I had no one.

I shrugged and clomped off in my brand new Baffin boots.

I didn’t feel brave at all.


I was six years ago, staring out the car window, watching the shadow of our car driving on the ditch (as you do), when I realized I am not the only person in this world.

Everybody lives in their own story.

I can still go back and conjure up that feeling (it's called sonder). A little electric shock that stings, a little anxiety, but also a rush – not one other person sees what I see. Not one other person feels what I feel. And I might not be in their story at all.

The boy in the arctic? In his story, moving somewhere isolated, where you didn't know anyone, was brave.

In my story, it wasn't.


Jen Sincero's popular self-help book, You Are a Badass, opened my eyes this summer to how damaging subconscious beliefs can be.

“No matter what you say you want, if you’ve got an underlying subconscious belief that it’s going to cause you pain or isn’t available to you, you either A) Won’t let yourself have it, or B) You will let yourself have it, but you’ll be rill fucked up about it... Once you see what’s really going on, you can start to drag out the stinky carcasses of your limiting subconscious beliefs and give them the heave-ho, thereby opening up the space to invite the fresh, new, awesome beliefs and experiences that you’d love to have, into your life.”

I told myself that my move to Nunavut wasn't brave, because it had been completely taken care of by my employer. All I had to do was get on the plane. Literally. I didn't even have to pack my own belongings (spoiling the reality of moving for me for the rest of my life).

The truth was that I have a subconscious belief that I'm not a brave person, so how could anything I do be courageous?

Exploring the tundra in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut


My belief that I'm not brave is keeping me from facing some things that are harder for me.

Time to give it the ol' heave ho!

Whenever I feel small and scared, I'm going to pull out the photo above, and look at that girl with her feet planted and a big smile on her face, and I'm going to tell myself:


So I'm going to do three smaller things that scare me to death this fall.


1. I'm going to go to a yoga class, which I've wanted to do FOR FOREVER and haven't. The story I tell myself is that I'm not flexible enough. The subconscious belief behind it is I shouldn't do anything I'm not perfect at.

2. I'm going to drive something. I've had my license for over a decade with zero tickets or accidents (unless you count backing into a lilac bush twice) and I'm still terrified of driving anything that's not a vehicle. A four wheeler? Snowmobile? Heaven forbid, a LAWNMOWER? The story I tell myself is that my personality type doesn't like adrenaline. The subconscious belief behind it is probably something about feeling like I can't trust myself to be in control. Haven't quite figured that one out yet.

My boyfriend is going to make sure I don't get away with this...

3. Finally, I’m going to keep blogging. I’ve started probably ten different blogs in my life. I do one post, or twenty, and then I stop. The story that I tell myself is it's my choice to stop - maybe the time isn't right, maybe I'm too busy. The subconscious belief is that I'm going to fail anyway and I better stop so I'll never know for sure.

Sometimes, keeping on going is the absolute bravest thing you can do.




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